Nicole Tracy | Literary Columnist
Examining the synopsis given in the romantic thriller “Friction” by Sandra Brown reads as follows: “Crawford Hunt wants his daughter back. Following the death of his wife four years ago, Crawford, a Texas Ranger, fell into a downward spiral that left him relegated to desk work and with his five-year-old daughter Georgia in the custody of her grandparents. But Crawford has cleaned up his act, met all the court imposed requirements, and now the fate of his family lies with Judge Holly Spencer.
Holly, ambitious and confident, temporarily occupies the bench of her recently deceased mentor. With an election upcoming, she must prove herself worthy of making her judgeship permanent. Every decision is high-stakes. Despite Crawford’s obvious love for his child and his commitment to being an ideal parent, Holly is wary of his checkered past. Her opinion of him is radically changed when a masked gunman barges into the courtroom during the custody hearing. Crawford reacts instinctively, saving Holly from a bullet.
But his heroism soon takes on the taint of recklessness. The cloud over him grows even darker after he uncovers a horrifying truth about the courtroom gunman and realizes that the unknown person behind the shooting remains at large… .and a threat.
Catching the real culprit becomes a personal fight for Crawford. But pursuing the killer in his customary diehard fashion will jeopardize his chances of gaining custody of his daughter, and further compromise Judge Holly Spencer, who needs protection not only from an assassin, but from Crawford himself and the forbidden attraction between them.
Friction will keep you on the edge of your seat with breathtaking plot twists and the unforgettable characters that make Sandra Brown one of the world’s best-loved authors. It is an extraordinary novel about the powerful ties that bind us to the ones we love and the secrets we keep to protect them.”
Texas Ranger Crawford Hunt’s wife died the previous year. He has been through some tough times, grief stricken, and has gone a little crazy over the last year. He agreed to allow his former wife’s parents custody, in order to raise his five year old daughter, Georgia until he could get back on his feet and deal with the grief.
However, now he has had time to get his act together, and wants nothing more than to regain custody of his much loved daughter. He has waited patiently for this day, as the short visits with his daughter are not enough. His heart breaks each time he leaves her and she loves her daddy. He wants her full time in his own home. He has even hired a designer to prepare his daughter’s room in her favorite color pink, which cost him a fortune, as he prepares to get his daughter back, where she belongs.
The day has finally arrived and he meets his attorney– the custody hearing. Tensions are high and he prepares himself for objections. He decides he will leave his gun at home, as needs to present himself, as a changed man, a good father. After all he has to deal with his father in law, Joe, a former cop, which is his worst enemy. He never has liked him.
In the middle of the hearing, prior to the judge’s final decision, a masked gunman breaks into the courtroom, and begins shooting. Quick to react, Crawford comes to Judge Holly Spencer’s side and saves her life. However, some are not so lucky, killing a bailiff. Immediately, Crawford grabs the bailiff’s gun and goes after the gunman. He is led to the rooftop for a show down.
What comes next is a series of events making Crawford look guilty. Was this the real killer? Who was the gunman? Who was he after? Motive? Holly or Crawford, or someone else?
A sniper kills the gunman, and first it appears Crawford is a hero, until it comes clear to Crawford, he has been set up. In the meantime, Joe is using this impulsive behavior against him, making him look bad. Sgt. Neal Lester, a detective seems to be working against him. With restraining orders, so he is not able to see his daughter, and fear for his life, Holly’s and Georgia’s– Crawford’s life is spinning out of control. He cannot lose his daughter. He is desperate to solve this case, in order to get his life back.
In the meantime, Holly and Crawford develop an intense sexual attraction. Her running opponent will be watching her every move, while everyone else is watching Crawford. She has recused herself from the case; however, until they know the identity of the real shooter, no one is safe. Crawford and Holly have to steal away for time together, to try and put the pieces of the mystery together.
As always, author Brown never disappoints with her writing. The suspense and intensity are smoking hot, with passion, danger, and crime, all at a breakneck speed which makes for an engrossing and riveting non-stop action page-turner. A mix of legal, crime, mystery, courtroom drama, cop procedural, romantic suspense, and thriller – one can’t help but root for a rough and tough Crawford and a father’s special love for his little girl.
Typical of Brown’s complex multi-layered writing, one should expect twists, secrets, turns, and some surprises at the end of this wonderful read.
Friction is available at the Howard County Public Library. Copies are limited, so if it is unavailable, ask at the front desk to be put on a waiting list for it.